Exercise science majors at Fort Lewis College now have more opportunities to do research and work with athletes thanks to the newly opened Fort Lewis College Durango Performance Center.
The Durango Performance Center was started by Dr. Bruce Andrea, a cardiologist, about 10 years ago, and he described the new center as a natural evolution because he has been working closely with FLC exercise science interns for years.
At FLC, the center can serve elite athletes in town and draw in teams and competitors from across the country to train, he said. He is helping to fund the center’s director and brought some of his equipment to the center, which he will continue to use as part of his practice.
The center’s equipment can be used to help athletes select bicycles and improve their running gaits, especially if they are injured, said Missy Thompson, an assistant professor of exercise science.
The center’s metabolic cart tests heart health and can be used to develop diets that maximize an athlete’s performance. It can also be used to help those with weight problems or diabetes improve their health.
Exercise science is the second-largest major at the college, and all seniors in the major are required to participate in the research professors are conducting, Thompson said. For example, FLC research has looked at the benefits of athletic training at different altitudes. The center’s new ergometer replicates paddleboarding in the lab and will allow students to research the popular new sport.
In the future, Andrea said he would like to see the exercise science and engineering departments work together on research projects and inventions.
“I can see this community being the Silicon Valley of sports physiology and exercise sciences,” he said.